In response to my article about the Golriz Ghahraman I received a number of claims that she had done no wrong and never attempted to hide or embellish her life's story. This is easily disproved and David Farrar created a list so that I don't have to:
1. Nov 16 – Green newsletter. Says “worked as a lawyer for the UN, putting on trial politicians and military leaders accused of committing human rights atrocities.” (no mention of defence work, implies prosecution only)
2. Unknown date. Lush. “She went on to work as a lawyer for the United Nations in Tribunals for Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and Cambodia, trying those accused of committing human rights atrocities.” (trying those clearly implies prosecuting)
3. Jan 17 – Herald story on her just announced candidacy says “She worked as a prosecutor at United Nations tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, where heads of state were on trial for mass atrocities. After getting her masters degree in International Human Rights Law at Oxford University she also worked on the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia.” (totally false and never corrected)
13. Sep/Oct – Radio NZ has a story with a photo of her at the Rwanda Tribunal which they label as “Golzriz prosecuting at the Rwanda Tribunal“
14. Oct 17 – Guardian said “representing the UN in tribunals prosecuting some of the world’s worst war criminals, including perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide.” (total opposite of the truth)
15. Nov 17 – maiden speech said : “I saw that at the Rwanda Tribunal, at The Hague and when I prosecuted the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Holding politicians and armies to account for breaching their powers. Giving voice to women, and minorities who are most viciously targeted by abusers.” (misleading as implies she was holding the politicians and armies in Rwanda to account, rather than defending them)
These fifteen times, she did nothing to correct the misrepresentation that she worked only to put war criminals away, rather than that two out of three times she worked on the defense teams. Like a good lawyer, of course, she never claimed otherwise herself so that her followers can say "she never said that!" and can also argue "defending war criminals is just part of the job!" These defenses are irrelevant because they sidestep the real problem: Miss Ghahraman's CV was perfectly manufactured to place her high on the Greens list. She provided and helped to propagate a carefully crafted list of achievements and life events that could propel her into parliament.
Rodney Hide stated in a radio interview that he was impressed with her CV when he first read it. He noted that her CV was carefully crafted for her to do well, not with the public, but within the Green party.
In politics people talk about the narrative, about creating the story, when what they should be doing is telling the truth.
- Rodney Hide
Another part of her CV that is of interest is her claim to have studied at Oxford. You can see that she hold a Masters in International Human Rights Law. The degree is part-time over two years, mainly long-distance internet teaching, but with two periods (nine weeks) at New College, Oxford University. It's the kind of privilege that rich kids pay a lot of money for and is a neat little source of income for Oxford. Again, there is nothing wrong with this, but simply more evidence of a perfectly manufactured candidacy.
She's not entirely to blame, there are plenty of media personalities who (supposedly) knew more details than they put into their stories, and the Green party pushed her resume when they likely knew the full story too. Again, it's not criminal, but the optics on this are bad, although it seems that her defenders haven't figured that out yet. It also plays into a bunch of stereotypical laywer tropes too.
One good thing that I hope does come out of this is to see the Greens re-affirm the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" by not supporting calls from the Labour party to shift the burden of proof to the rape-accussed for instance. After all, the Greens are now on the record for "innocent until proven guilty" when crimes against humanity are on the table, so we can hope they keep that up for all lesser crimes too. Progress.
There are going to be certain areas for Golriz now where the jokes will write themselves. For instance, she is the poster child for the Greens open borders refugee policy. A number of Manus refugees have been accused of various heinous crimes, and since Golriz now has a reputation for being a good defense lawyer, including her willingness to fight extradition for a man accused of crimes against humanity … well, you can write the punchline yourself.
The "first refugee MP who put world-leaders on trial for their abuse of power" is now the "MP who defended war criminals and took photos with them." She made a fool of James Shaw by making him lie twice about her resume. She wasn't the first to do so and likely won't be the last.